Weight loss is one of the most challenging issues for many people. There are so many suggested weight loss formulas and diets, that it is not surprising people become confused over the subject. However, an exciting new animal study has found that the hormone, oxytocin, could be a potential breakthrough weight loss treatment.
Oxytocin, a reproductive hormone, has been found to regulate food intake and energy metabolism, according to the study, which was presented at the Endocrine Society's 94th Annual Meeting on June 24, 2012, in Houston. The study's leaders presented how oxytocin helps initiate uterus contractions in women, and stimulates the milk-producing glands during childbirth. Previous research by the same medical team had also found a link between oxytocin and the body's control over energy intake and use.
"These findings reveal novel anti-obese and anti-metabolic-syndrome effects of oxytocin," said Yuko Maejima Ph.D, an assistant professor in the research department at Jichi Medical University in Shimotsuke, Tochigi, Japan. "Thus, our results provide an avenue for developing an oxytocin-based effective and safe treatment of obesity."
Oxytocin dose led to reduction in food consumption
The study used a group of animals, which were fed a high fat diet in order to reach a certain weight that classified them as obese. The animals were then given an injection of oxytocin for a 17-day period, and were administered further oxytocin through implanted mini pumps for a 13-day period.
The research team found that by administering oxytocin injections, they reduced the amount of food the animals wanted to eat. This led to a loss of body weight during treatment, and for nine days after treatment.
The mini pump administration method also had a number of positive effects on the animals: it reduced liver fat, abdominal fat and improved glucose tolerance. All of these factors are major contributors to the risk of serious heart and blood problems in humans. In addition, the mini pump procedure was found to decrease the size of the animals' fat storage cells.
The most significant finding was that all of the above were achieved without causing any harm to the animals; blood pressure levels remained the same throughout the procedure, suggesting that the same treatment could be both effective and safe in humans.
Maejima said: "The finding that peripheral oxytocin treatment has no effect on the normal blood-pressure levels or the locomotor activity of this mouse model suggests that oxytocin may not influence the cardiovascular system or emotions."
This study was funded by several significant organizations in Japan, highlighting the strong belief in oxytocin's potential as a breakthrough treatment for weight loss and control in humans. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan; Ichiro Kanehara Foundation; Suzuken Memorial Foundation; Itoe Okamoto scientific award SHISEIKAI; Mochida Memorial Foundation for Medical and Pharmaceutical Research; Japan Society for the Promotion of Science; and Takeda Science Foundation all invested in the research.
Major global problem
Obesity remains one of the most harmful causes of numerous diseases in humans, such as heart problems, high blood pressure and diabetes. It affects people from all over the world. Figures from the World Health Organization indicate that there are currently in excess of 1.4 billion overweight adults in the world, and a worrying 500 million of these people are classified as clinically obese. As rates of obesity have doubled since 1980, the condition remains a huge global problem that is responsible for thousands of premature deaths. The news that oxytocin could be an effective and safe treatment for the condition is a massive breakthrough for the medical industry and could be the solution to many peoples' problems.